It's that time of year: with the PGA Merchandise Show coming up next week (as always, you can expect our commentary on it shortly afterward), golf's major equipment companies are touting their latest and greatest equipment in hopes of finding their way into your golf bag in 2017.
And even though your home course may be frozen right now, the big club manufacturers don't want to wait until springtime to put something new in your hands.
That's why if you're in the market for some new sticks and are planning a golf vacation in warmer climes this winter, you may want to take that opportunity to test some new clubs, either at a specific fitting event or one of the increasing number of boutique clubfitters (we're partial to True Spec Golf ourselves).
Last week, I was invited to an event of the former sort: a fitting for the new Callaway Golf Epic driver. If you're looking for a new big stick, here's why you should make sure to try this club:
Solid (Very Solid) Feel
Every company markets every new driver it releases with one main idea: it will help you hit the ball farther than ever, boosting your confidence every time you step on the tee box. One point in Epic's favor is its new Jailbreak feature: two vertical bars inside the clubhead and close to the face that connect the crown to the head. These bars help stabilize the clubface at impact, which is important because strong players can cause the face to flex somewhat at impact. Keeping that flexion from happening helps add a couple miles per hour in ball speed, which can result in extra yardage.
Long-time golf equipment geeks may remember the Zevo Compressor driver from the early 2000s. It had a similar feature based around the same idea, but it only had one vertical bar, rather than Callaway's two.
The Epic Sub Zero (the lower-spin, less closed-faced version) I hit demonstrated some real pop at impact. I tested it on TrackMan against my current driver, and the data suggested that the Epic was giving me about three miles per hour more ball speed on good shots, resulting in about eight extra yards on average and as much as 15 or 20 extra yards on my best shots.
Major golf equipment manufacturers seem to lean toward either high-tech or traditional looks. With the Epic driver, Callaway Golf is staking a claim in higher-tech aesthetic territory, while still keeping the club from looking busy at address.
As you can see, Callaway's familiar chevron is on display, as is some of the extremely lightweight carbon fiber that comprises a good amount of the clubhead. Many manufacturers have dabbled with carbon fiber in the past, and Callaway uses it in the Epic to help lower and deepen the center of gravity.
A Random Discovery
This has less to do with the driver itself than the fitting process, but it's something I discovered while trying out the Epic and wanted to pass along.
My first few swings with the Epic driver were not entirely thrilling. Joel, the Florida-based Callaway rep who fitted me for the driver, had initially given me a fairly light shaft: 62 grams. After a number of well-hit pulls (a couple of them 30+ yards right of my target), he switched me into a 75-gram shaft. This was the one I hit my best shots with, as the heavier shaft helped slow me down a bit between backswing and downswing. This underscored the idea that shaft weight can be as important as flex, something I learned I'd been overlooking.
So if, like me, you tend to get quick from the top, you might just want to try a heavier shaft in your driver. On the flip side, if you have a smoother transition, you might want to try a lighter shaft to coax a few extra yards out of your swing.
Two big takeaways from my afternoon getting to know the new Callaway Golf Epic driver:
- If you're in the market for a new boom-boom stick in 2017, don't be surprised if the Epic makes the shortlist for residency in your golf bag.
- Whatever you do, and whatever new clubs you might be buying soon, get yourself fitted. If you keep buying clubs off the rack, you might get lucky and stumble into a solid setup, but more often than not, you'll be throwing good money after bad. I've played a lot of golf in my time, and I play in amateur tournaments when I can, and I will absolutely get fitted for the next clubs I acquire.
The Callaway Epic and Epic Sub Zero drivers retail for $499.99.
What do you think of all the buzz surrounding Callaway's newest driver offerings? Be sure to let us know below!